In a state still reeling from the Black Friday arts funding cuts, ACE Open is cast as the phoenix from the ashes of Contemporary Art Centre South Australia (CACSA) and The Australian Experimental Art Foundation (AEAF). While the organisation and its public explore this new stage, ACE Open remains open during an impressively transparent development phase leading to an official launch in the middle of 2017. 24 Frames Per Second opened as the second exhibition to grace the reimagined Lion’s Art Centre gallery, presenting six of the 24 works originally commissioned by Carriageworks, for the exhibition’s debut in 2015.
As indicated by the wall text, the six works selected for this iteration of 24 Frames Per Second explore “inner and outer landscapes and worlds… traverse intimate expression to shared ritual, classical aesthetic to cultural heritage, and studio space to spectacular vistas”. This is a premise that seems to be as disparate as the landscapes it invokes. And when drawing from a bank of the Carriageworks commissions that brings collaboration and interdisciplinary practice so clearly into view, it seems strange to shift the focus to such a generic rationale.
Initially audiences are met by the sedimentary-like formation of Alison Currie’s sculpted screen, which echoes the artists’ tumbled choreography and rocky outcrops of the Fleurieu Peninsula where I Can Relate is filmed. The jarring, angular soundtrack which pumps through suspended headphones generates a sense of urgency to viewing, the feeling of blink-and-miss-it, just as the motions of the choreography are lost at times among the sculptural gaps in the screen.
The subtlety of the video loop frames a key feature in Sophie Hyde and Restless Dance Theatre’s work, To Look Away. Careful character studies solidify as faces within a monumental arrangement whose individual, inner worlds are unveiled through time and repetition.
Where To Look Away requests attention and focus, Christian Thompson’s Silence Is Golden invades the space, with a shuddering of bells ringing out through the darkness. While the hazy image of the artist performing the traditional Morris dance of his English ancestors fails to inspire extended observation, the audio sets a heartbeat for the entire gallery, a metronome to measure your progression through the space.
Moving on, Latai Taumoepeau and Elias Nohra’s Repatriate sees Taumoepeau embody the vulnerability of the pacific islands, and islanders in the face of climate change. Cramped in a tank slowly filling with water, her hindered movements play out on miniature screens that flank a claustrophobic corridor. Forced into close quarters with this work, my own awkwardness in navigating the space mirrored her limited, self-conscious movements. Taumoepeau’s poetic representations of threat and complicity of power were further demonstrated via her live performance Ocean Island Mine featured during the opening weekend of the exhibition. Dressed in a white boiler suit, she wrestled with half a tonne of ice, traversing the gallery’s forecourt in a sisyphean effort to build and sustain an ever-melting island.
The fragmented journey of François Chaignaud and César Vayssieé’s The Sweetest Choice drew me in to a personal exchange. Sitting solo, enveloped by a raw, intimate, soundtrack, I watched the rhythm of each scene, perfectly framed between the walls of the space. With each new beginning, I became more aware of the cycles of gesture, the camera frame adjustments that track progression and landscape, and the abandon with which the protagonist’s ragged breath signals the conclusion of each iteration of performance. This was a work that rewarded perseverance, in a show that required it of the audience.
As I settle in the final space of the gallery where Angelica Mesiti’s Nahk Removed plays, I found myself struggling to focus. The discipline required in viewing a collection of video work such as this becomes a marathon of attention. This effort reinforces the value in smaller, focused and locally relevant presentations of what is unquestionably an extensive catalogue of the contemporary nexus of dance, film and visual art. The meditative, decelerated movements of the Berber hair dance seemed to swallow me up, and so I stepped into the frame of the projection to remind myself of my own parameters.
Melissa McGrath is a curator, artist and educator from Perth, based in Adelaide.
24 Frames Per Second runs May 25th – July 1st, 2017 at ACE Open.